Aly Raisman’s Fierce – a review

Before starting the book I was predisposed to like it.

1) Aly Raisman is one of those few international gymnasts who speaks with authority.

2) She wrote the book with Blythe Lawrence, Gymnastics expert.

Blythe has several other books including Great Moments in Olympic Gymnastics. (2014)

I bought the audio version with an accompanying PDF including photos. It’s available too in hard cover and Kindle.

Most reviews of Fierce focused on Aly’s reveal of having been abused by the U.S. National Team doctor. It’s damning for Nassar and USA Gymnastics. Of all his victims, Aly Raisman has the largest audience. She successfully got the message out to the general public announcing it on 60 Minutes the week of the book launch.

Indeed, protecting everyone from predators has been her mission since.

We appreciate Aly’s time, energy and bravery in taking on this most important issue. She’s done more, personally, to educate Americans than has USA Gymnastics collectively.

If, like me, you are still trying to understand how one of the USAG medical team could abuse so many gymnasts for so many years without being caught, read Aly’s chapter on the Survivors.


Fierce is as good a gymnastics celebrity biography as I can recall. I enjoyed it start to finish.

Her relationship with her coaches and Marta Karolyi is heartwarming. A great insight from one of the most decorated American gymnasts.

U.S. gymnast Alexandra Raisman with coach Mihai Brestyan after stumbling while competing in the balance beam during a women’s team qualification round, at the Olympic Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 7, 2016. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

Aly has already had one of the greatest careers in international gymnastics history, but the book modestly focuses on her failures. Her many 4th place finishes. Her lowest moments.

As a child she was never the best gymnast in her group. The future Olympic Floor champion had problems learning back twisting on Floor. For months she was the only girl in her group training layout rather than full twist.

Like Shawn Johnson, she (mostly) went to regular school. She played many other sports, especially soccer, and attended physical education class when a principal would not count Gymnastics training as equivalent.

Her many young gymnast readers can relate.

I was shocked to read about her self-doubts over the years. Watching Aly from the cheap seats she appeared to be the best prepared, the most consistent medal contender in the world. Fierce and confident.

The section on her participation in the 2015 ESPN Body Issue is excellent. Another important message.

For her second Olympics Aly worked with a dietician. She details her program. I’d advise gymnasts not to blindly copy what worked for Aly Raisman. Get your own dietician. Every body is different.

One takeaway I got from this book is that USAG should abandon The Ranch as a training centre.

Aly Raisman was twice the Olympic team captain. Has 6 Olympic medals, 3 of them gold. Yet there’s no rah rah hyper patriotism in this biography. She’s much more interested in her family. Her teammates. Her friends.

It’s upbeat but not a fluff piece.

My only complaint is that I’d like to know more. She scarcely speaks of club teammate Alicia Sacramone, for example. I’d like to have had more insights into what happened at all those secretive team camps.

To sum up, however, I’d highly recommend this book as a Christmas gift.

Click PLAY or watch Aly’s Gold medal Floor from London on YouTube.

related – Jessica and Spencer posted an audio review – GymCastic #282

Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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